Industry supports call for Government to create post of chief construction officer

The industry has been quick to welcome the recommendation to the Government by the Business & Enterprise Committee that a new post of ‘chief construction officer’ should be created to tackle the problem of fragmentation in construction policy and procurement across Government. The call is made in the report ‘Construction matters’. Expressing strong support for a champion to represent and deal with construction issues, BSRIA urges Government not to dither over an appointment. Andrew Eastwell, chief executive of BSRIA, says, ‘This report goes to the heart of the matter for construction innovation. We have only eight years to design, build and prove zero-carbon dwellings and a scant decade to do the same for other buildings. ‘We urgently need a champion to marshal the considerable skills, resources and goodwill that exists both in industry and Government. We cannot dither in implementing the report’s main findings.’ Chris Blythe, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Building, says, ‘We believe it’s a good sign that the proposed post falls at the official level rather than ministerial level. Ministers often have competing responsibilities and portfolios, whereas a senior official would have operational responsibility for construction in key departments and the delivery of construction policy. ‘We support the recommendation to create this new post and see this as a useful first step in dealing with the Government’s fractured approach towards the industry.’ BSRIA also welcomed the committee’s strong report for the greater use of post-occupancy evaluation (POE) in the public sector, but warned that POE by itself will not reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions, nor lead to more productive and healthy buildings. ‘Post-occupancy evaluation is desperately needed in the Government estate to determine what sustainability measures are actually working and which ones are actually helping to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions,’ says Andrew Eastwell. ‘At the moment, we are only guessing that innovative design features are delivering the energy-efficiency benefits assumed at the design stage. We need to know for sure. We also need a process carrier to ensure that lessons are not only fed back into design and building teams but also fed forward into improving the performance of future projects.’

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